It was all there, and more. Sunshine, music drifting down Orford Road, the smell of street food in the air, a nice cold drink in hand and spontaneous dad dancing in the street. In a nutshell, this year’s Village Festival, brought to you by the Waltham Forest Community Hub and its army of volunteers, was the perfect way to mark the end of summer.
The Village Festival was revived three years ago by the Hub and, after a pause
last year, it was back and better than ever. A straw poll of those attending revealed an overwhelming majority loved the atmosphere, the community spirit, range of stalls and, of course, the live music.
In fact, the music stage in Orford Road summed up how it really was a festival with something for everyone; from the harmonious and enthusiastic sounds of the Natural Voices choir to the punk rock stylings of Chaos UK.
Festival organisers decided to concentrate the event in Orford Road (not extend it as in the past into Vestry Road), and with the music stage at the heart of the event in front of the Community Hub, the new layout helped create a vibrant mood with the crowds concentrated into a smaller, more intimate space. This year also saw a record number of local businesses stepping up to provide sponsorship, something organisers had been working on to help fund the event and make it a truly community day.
“It was a very special day,” said Edna Kim of Petals in Bloom, one of first sponsors to sign up this year. “It was a really fantastic way to raise the profile of the Village. There were lots of new faces and many of them didn’t know how much is happening here in our neighbourhood. Now they do!”
“I thought it was absolutely great,” said Mark Newby of Froth & Rind, another of the sponsors. “There seemed to be a lot more people than previous years. The weather helped and it was really well organised. It was great fun to be right in the middle of it. The bar has been set high for next year,” he added.
Festival organiser Monwara Ali said, “The festival was such a success due to so many hard-working individuals pulling together and working tirelessly to prove what is possible if the community unites through a common cause. It motivated us to live up to the expectations of all those who had put their trust in us.”
Monwara added, “Not only did The Walthamstow Toy Library plan and manage the Children’s Area, but 19 local businesses were sponsors and I think this showed their belief that the Hub could deliver a family-friendly community event that has a positive ripple effect on the entire neighbourhood.”
It’s estimated that over 2,000 people attended and Monwara hopes that the festival can return. “There is so much support locally for the festival to take place next year, not only as a great community event but as a marketing tool for the many businesses, artists and local groups.”
The final decision on whether the Hub puts on the festival again in 2018 now rests with the organisation’s Board of Trustees.
This article first appeared in the Autumn 2017 edition of “The Village” magazine.
The Waltham Forest Community Hub may be in a position to support future Walthamstow Village Festivals, so is keen to hear your feedback about the day and what improvements could be made.
Please complete their survey here: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/73F7R6N